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Diane Long is a 2018 graduate of the Executive MBA Program in Hong Kong. She is a Human Resources leader and has worked for JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citi, and Fidelity International. She is currently taking a leave from work to study the Japanese language and earn a professional coaching certification. She developed this employer sponsorship checklist for EMBA candidates by leveraging her years of experience working in Human Resources at some of the world’s top companies and her personal experience soliciting support for the program.

Diane Long smiles and poses with Dean Madhav Rajan

My Facebook memories feed on Monday reminded me that it was this time last year when I received my official diploma from Booth.  

For many of my fellow classmates, the Booth program proved our multi-tasking abilities - both at home as spouses or parents and in the office as a manager and employee. Prior to the program, I never imagined I could be effective without being in the office five days a week. Now, I don’t believe I would be as effective if I didn’t know how to work remotely and flexibly.

For many applicants, the biggest hurdle to beginning the program at Booth is convincing your manager to give you the time off. Here is my checklist on what makes a persuasive argument for getting employer sponsorship: 

  1. Have a pitch presented in the format most familiar to your firm (e.g. PowerPoint deck) that explains the specific benefits your firm will immediately receive from your attendance. Examples of this could be in the form of course content, potential client connections and diversity and inclusion initiatives for those of you who identify in a minority group.

  2. Create a list of Booth alumni to share and be thoughtful about including those who would be respected by your company leadership.

  3. Find support within your network. Seek out senior sponsors who are respected in your firm and whose opinion matters. You might also reach out to Booth alumni or alumni of other top U.S. business schools for support.

  4. Convey your understanding of the Booth curriculum. Identify current initiatives and problems that exist in your firm and where courses would be of significant value and then map out how you will share your newfound knowledge.

  5. Showcase yourself as a "flight risk" your firm cannot afford to lose. Demonstrate that you are in a role where you bring unique talent that is difficult to replace and that you need additional training and support from them to continue providing value. 

  6. Create a “zero impact plan” that ensures your manager and clients will receive the same delivery level they are accustomed to, if not better than before you started your MBA.

  7. Tap high potential staff for more opportunities. If you manage a team, identify individuals who are capable of and passionate to take on more responsibility and then delegate and empower them!

  8. Have patience and resiliency. Persuasion takes time and it will take many conversations to happen throughout your organization to reach an agreement. 

At the very core of this checklist is your flexibility. No manager wants to be impacted by your personal decision. Most managers will not see the long-term benefits of an MBA but will still recognize that you are more employable once you graduate. If you want the Booth MBA (and I know you do) there will be sacrifices you will need to make. It will be worth it. My 250+ fellow classmates from around the world are proof of what is possible if you are willing to give it your all.